Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong in the new biopic called First Man. The movie is based on the book by American historian James R. Hansen and directed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle who directed last year's La La Land. The teaming again of Chazelle and Gosling makes for an Oscar-caliber film that is head and shoulders above any previous movie about the NASA space program.
First Man chronicles the Apollo space program in the sixties, however, unlike a movie like Ron Howard's Apollo 13, this movie doesn't gloss over the failures of the Apollo space program. For example, it's a little-known fact that three Apollo astronauts were burned alive in a space capsule during a routine NASA mission. First Man also shows the personal side of Armstrong. He was a man with family issues and who enjoyed BBQs and having a few laughs over beers with the boys. It just so happens that "the boys" were all also Apollo astronauts.
The human touch with the movie's characters is the most enjoyable part of the film; along with the incredible CGI space effects that make you feel like you are right there in space with the astronauts. Director Chazelle uses camera angles and sound that make you rattle and shake just like you were inside the cockpit.
The movie has its ups and downs with the story line but the film itself stays consistently good and entertaining. Both Gosling and Chazelle should receive Oscar nominations for best actor and best director. First Man is one of the best movies I've seen this year. See it in IMAX if you can to get the full effect.
First Man has a run time of 2 hours and 21 minutes and is rated PG-13. It's a movie that shows one of mankind's biggest accomplishments, but it's also the story of the man, with all of his failures and frailties, who achieved it. On my "Hollywood Popcorn Scale" this movie rates a JUMBO.